Sustainability is the New Black Part 1: Up-cycling
by Lyric Willis
As per Webster’s dictionary “Sustainability is the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level”. Translated into everyday language it basically means avoiding the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.We can totally achieve this by taking steps toward recycling, up-cycling, and just by being more mindful of what we are purchasing. And from a designer’s standpoint, what we are designing and how we are producing it.
The topic of needing a more sustainable fashion industry is a big one. Fashion is second after the oil and gas industry in terms of global carbon emissions and it is one of the most wasteful industries in the world. With fast fashion companies, like H&M and Forever 21, producing way more than they can sell, 87% percent of the produced fashion will go into landfills or be incinerated. 87 percent! I was floored when I learned this!
Lets talk about up-cycling … first what does that mean??
verb - present participle: up-cycling
re-use (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.
Up-cycling reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills. For every ton of discarded textiles that are up-cycled 20 tons of Co2 is prevented from entering the atmosphere! So if you think about it, by buying up-cycled you are indirectly doing your part in creating a better environment. Not only that but you are also inspiring the next generation of designers to take that leap in making more eco-friendly and less wasteful designs.
You might ask, how is up-cycling different than recycling? Well, Recycling takes waste items backwards in the production chain returning them to their raw state to be made again; still super effective. While up-cycling, on the other hand, takes waste items forward in the production chain by making them into something much more beautiful and more valuable through design. And if you think about it, when you purchase an up-cycled item, you are buying a unique item designed and made by an artisan. So guys, at the end of the day, you just bought a one-of-a-kind piece of art AND your are helping the environment!
When Stacy asked me to write a blog post on sustainability I never expected to learn as much as I did. I mean, I am a fashion graduate but they didn’t prepare me for the broader implications of what we do or the wider global responsibility that we have to take on as producers! But Stacy, she takes that seriously. She believes that the antiques she “rescues” still have beauty left in them and have another life to live. From the mosaic glass tile she salvages to create the Amber Drops to the broken 100 year old shoe clips she upcycles into rings. So when you buy pieces from the Aesthetik you are not only buying a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry but helping to sustain the earth.
As a recent New York City transplant and an aspiring fashion designer, Lyric Willis is heavily influenced by gender fluid styles that put more emphasis on the sexy feminine side. She is currently freelancing as a blog writer to help make her dreams come true. In the words of the beloved Kanye West, “If the devil wears Prada, Adam and Eve wear nada. I’m in between, but way more fresher.”